SPIRIT OF THE SEA

The beach­side site of a weather-beaten Syd­ney bun­ga­low is re-cre­ated as a so­phis­ti­cated, light-washed ur­ban home.

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Sea and sky meld into one when viewed through the three-me­tre-high slid­ing glass that fronts this clifftop aerie with bird’s- eye panora­mas. The mar­gins be­tween the house and its set­ting are sim­i­larly blurred, the light-washed in­te­ri­ors by de­sign­ers Hare & Klein breath­ing in the ev­er­chang­ing seascape be­yond. But while fluid and dy­namic, the space also owes a debt to Syd­ney’s east­ern suburbs, which stretch out be­hind. Com­bin­ing coastal cool with city so­phis­ti­ca­tion, this may be a beach home, but it’s no beach house. The site was shame­lessly squan­dered by the lat­ter when the own­ers bought it 10 years ago. But beauty lay be­yond the weather-beaten bun­ga­low. “There was some­thing mag­i­cal about the view,” says the owner, who lives here with her hus­band and two chil­dren, both un­der 10. So, in 2011, they brought in the bull­doz­ers and re­placed it with this home by ar­chi­tect Brian Bass of Popov Bass. An ‘ur­ban beach’ aes­thetic topped their wish list. Bass cap­tured the view with an in­ge­nious split-level de­sign — usu­ally re­served for a slop­ing land­scape rather than a rel­a­tively flat site such as this — so both front and rear of the house are soaked in light and vistas. A sus­pended stair­case aids ac­cess to the view from the dif­fer­ent lev­els. While the home is open plan, the split level also nur­tures an in­ti­macy through­out. Curved walls don’t just echo the ebb and flow of the ocean: “They make the spa­ces flow, add soft­ness and help pick up the view,” the ar­chi­tect says. “And when cou­pled with the waxed ren­dered fin­ish in the hall­way, you just want to touch the wall. Hare & Klein just got that tex­ture thing.” Bass wasn’t the only one who thought so. The home owner had seen prin­ci­pal Meryl Hare on a TV ren­o­va­tion show, aptly as it turned out, giv­ing tips on how to revamp a beach home. “It res­onated with me,” she says. “Meryl talked about tex­tures and lay­ers. It all made sense. She was so sen­si­ble and pas­sion­ate about what she was do­ing.” In her brief to Hare and the firm’s se­nior in­te­rior de­signer, Eloise Fother­ing­ham, the owner spec­i­fied in­te­ri­ors that were “authen­tic and not showy”, and prac­ti­cal for two small chil­dren. And an aes­thetic that bor­rowed from the cityscape as well as the ocean spread out be­fore it. ››

“Curved walls make the spa­ces flow, add soft­ness and help pick up the view” — ar­chi­tect Brian Bass

‹‹ “We live by the beach, but this is our home, not a hol­i­day house,” she says. “It had to be true to its en­vi­ron­ment.” So no shells or sail­boats — this had to sub­tly evoke the spirit of the sea rather than be­ing lit­eral in its ref­er­ences. It also had to be calm and re­laxed, says Fother­ing­ham, with washed- out tones and nat­u­ral tex­tured fin­ishes. “We wanted to get away from lots of white, be­cause it can be too stark and glary. In­stead, sub­tle, nat­u­ral tones in sil­very greys and khakis soften and ground the spa­ces. And the darker el­e­ments ac­tu­ally re­cede.” “With drift­wood tones and shards of white, the colours re­late to the colours of the ocean,” adds Hare. Mean­while, the Joshua Yeldham print in the liv­ing area and the dark pen­dants over the din­ing ta­ble cre­ate con­trast that an­chors the airy open plan. Tac­tile fin­ishes — in­clud­ing con­crete, waxed plas­ter, sand­blasted stone and tim­ber — are echoed in the fur­nish­ings and ac­ces­sories, such as pa­per- cord chairs, sisal rugs, wo­ven bas­kets, knit­ted silk-and- cash­mere pen­dants and wall sculp­tures by Tracey Deep. Many of th­ese, too, have a found qual­ity as if crafted from ob­jects cast up by the tide. Even the shapes al­lude to the ocean, the or­ganic cof­fee ta­ble re­call­ing stones smoothed by the waves. In con­trast, the more earthy study on the city side of the house has a darker tribal, den-like feel, the two mono­chrome prints be­ing the start­ing point for the dec­o­ra­tion. Over­size so­fas, a ban­quet-size din­ing ta­ble and a mas­sive ar­chi­tec­tural plan cabi­net re­cast as a side­board com­ple­ment the gen­er­ous, airy spa­ces, their am­ple pro­por­tions cre­at­ing a di­a­logue with the smaller fur­nish­ings and ac­ces­sories. “Tex­ture also comes from the in­ter­play of large and small pieces,” says Hare. Like a beach­comber, Fother­ing­ham painstak­ingly amassed the ac­ces­sories piece by piece as the project evolved. For ex­am­ple, the chunky, weath­ered tim­ber tray on the side­board sat be­side her desk for months await­ing its new home. “They are found pieces gath­ered over time,” she says. “You can’t find unique pieces in one day.” In a house that strad­dles dif­fer­ent worlds, the breezy, re­laxed in­te­ri­ors em­brace an­other in­trigu­ing para­dox. “They show an amaz­ing level of de­tail,” says the owner. “They look so spon­ta­neous and yet they’re not.”

this page: in the main bed­room, SO­CI­ETY raw linen throw in Char­coal from On­dene; Chi­nese bench and Moroc­can run­ner from The Country Trader; Salt Nar­ra­tive (2014) by MARK EL­LIOT-RANKEN. op­po­site page, clock­wise from top left: in the guest bath­room, cus­tom basin by BOYD AL­TER­NA­TIVES and AS­TRA WALKER Icon tap­ware, both from Can­dana. In the liv­ing room, GER­VA­SONI In­Out ‘43’ and ‘44’ side ta­bles from Ani­bou; art­works by TERRI BROOKS. In the main en­suite, APAISER ‘Seascapes’ bath from Rogerseller; Icon tap­ware from As­tra Walker; sculp­ture by TRACEY DEEP. In the kitchen, STONE ITALIANA Su­per­white Grain bench­top; pho­to­graph by GRA­HAM FRANSELLA. De­tails, last pages.

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